Haramain Express Train trial successful

Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, center, deputy governor of Makkah region, arrives at Haramain Express Train station in Jeddah. (SPA)
Updated 26 July 2017
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Haramain Express Train trial successful

JEDDAH: On behalf of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, deputy governor of Makkah, participated on Tuesday in a pilot trip of the Haramain Express Train.
Also present were Transport Minister Sulaiman Al-Hamdan; Spanish State Secretary for Infrastructure, Transport and Housing Julio Gomez; President of the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO) and Chairman of the Public Transport Authority Rumaih Al-Rumaih; and a number of other top officials and media personnel.
The Haramain Express will transport passengers from Makkah to Madinah (and vice-versa), via Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City. The railway is around 450 km in length, and will offer a fast-paced, comfortable and secure transportation option for travelers passing through Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City. The train is expected to be fully operational during the first quarter of 2018.
On its pilot trip, the Haramain Express first ran from Jeddah to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) station in Rabigh, which was toured and inspected. The train then continued its journey toward Madinah at a speed of over 300 km per hour.
Prince Saud bin Khaled Al-Faisal, deputy governor of Madinah, received the train upon its arrival at Madinah Station on behalf of Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman, and boarded the train for its return journey to Jeddah.
Al-Hamdan explained that the speed at which this large-scale national project — one of the largest transportation projects in the Middle East — has progressed would not have been possible without the ongoing support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and support of the governors of Makkah and Madinah, and the support of the Public Investment Fund.
“The project represents substantial added value to the transportation system in the Kingdom, and is in line with one of Vision 2030’s objectives — to harness energies and potential to serve the guests of God by increasing the capacity of the systems and services provided to them.”
Such services include transportation, he said, noting that the number of pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques is predicted to increase from 8 million to 30 million people by 2030.
The minister went on to explain that the design of this project was based on the latest global specifications for high-speed railways, and features the highest safety and quality standards. The fully operational Haramain Express is expected to transport more than 60 million passengers annually.
For his part, Al-Rumaih said that the inauguration of the new railway will reduce pressure and limit pollution and congestion on roads between the two holy cities, while also providing a safer and faster transportation option.
The train’s travel time between Jeddah and Makkah will be around 21 minutes. It will take less than two-and-a-half hours to travel between Makkah and Madinah.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-ti
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”